When I was writing yesterday about boarding school food I found myself remembering with delight the wonderful school puddings that nobody eats any more. All the chocolate stodge and custard, the lemon steamed puddings, the rice puddings… And oh god the sago, let’s not go there, and the semolina and the tapioca, only made palatable by the jam.
Queen of Puddings was a majestic dish. Served as they all were in dishes large enough to feed at least eight Queen’s Pud was a cut above the others. I recalled it as a soft custardy base with jam and meringue on top, the jam hot enough to burn your mouth under the crunching quaking meringue. I thought it might be nice to make one to see if it was as special as I remembered.
Apparently this pudding was developed from a 17th Century recipe by Queen
7 ozs /200 g fresh white breadcrumbs
2 tbsp sugar
zest of a lemon
1 pint/600 ml milk
2 ozs/50 g butter
4 eggs, separated
4 tbsp raspberry jam, warmed
2 ozs/50 g caster sugar
Heat oven to 180 °C / 350 °F / Gas 4. Place the breadcrumbs, sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl. Scald the milk and butter and remove from heat. Stir in the breadcrumbs and leave for 10 minutes. Beat the egg yolks and add to the breadcrumbs. Grease an ovenproof serving dish which will hold 2½ pints/1.5 l or six individual ramekins. Pour in the mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven, leave for a few minutes and gently spread the jam over the top (be careful not to break the surface skin). Whisk the egg whites until stiff and slowly fold in the caster sugar reserving 1 teaspoon to the side. Pile the egg whites over the top of the jam, sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of sugar over the top and place back in the oven for 15 minutes until set.
The contrast in textures is wonderful; the crisp outer shell of the meringue hides a soft cloud of interior, the jam sharp and sweet and the base a pillow. It makes you feel loved.